According to the poll, we would have four players being sent down (Cole Sillinger, Liam Foudy, Emil Bemstrom, Tim Berni) – which means that we need to find four players to call up and replace them. There are some options available, but they won’t exactly help put butts in the seats in Columbus.
With Brendan Gaunce out due to injury, the Jackets would be choosing from the following to step into the lineup: Josh Dunne, Tyler Angle, Joona Luoto, Trey Fix-Wolansky, and Justin Richards up front. On defense: Jake Christiansen, Marcus Bjork, or Billy Sweezey.
They have kept David Jiricek in the minors regardless the situation in Columbus, and that feels like the right move. He’s thriving in Cleveland, and should be ready for the NHL next year. If we’re basing this fully on development, you keep guys like Angle and Fix-Wolansky down. Which means newcomer Lane Pederson likely slots into the lineup to fill a spot vacated by one of the youngsters. Fingers crossed that Carson Meyer can return and take a spot at some point, also.
For argument’s sake, lets ignore the poll and say the team wants to base this whole thing on developing their top prospects in a winning environment. In this scenario, I could see the team holding on to Foudy and Bemstrom, and sending down players like Sillinger, Berni, Kent Johnson, Kirill Marchenko and/or Yegor Chinakhov.
If development is the purpose of making these moves, it might make more sense. But, are you hurting their development at the same time by taking guys who have been successful in the NHL and sending them down? Do you hurt future relationships by sticking them into a league where they will make significantly less money for the rest of the season?
And, importantly, you only have so many call-ups you can make after the trade deadline. So if you make these moves early, they are mostly finalized for the rest of the season. It’s a risky situation all-around, and probably not the correct move.
For all of these reasons, my gut says that the Jackets will stay the course and keep the players they have in the NHL now, in the NHL for the remainder of the season. Then, should opportunity arise in the form of the Monsters still playing meaningful games, the Jackets will load them up once the regular season is over, and these guys will play in the AHL.
If the Monsters can sneak into the playoffs, gaining this much talent for a run could make them a dangerous team. That kind of experience would be invaluable to a lot of these younger players, who will have played an entire NHL season to that point. Bringing them back with higher confidence in the fall, could make the Jackets a better team. So cheer on the Monsters this season, Jacket fans. Let’s see them in the playoffs!